Achieve the highest distinction in the investment management profession – the CFA®designation.
The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) credential is held by over 150,000 professionals around the world. The charter gives a strong understanding of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills.
The CFA Program is a self-study program divided into three levels of exams. Passing these exams is one step to becoming a CFA charterholder.
How to Earn the CFA Charter
Enroll in the CFA® Program and register for an exam
There are requirements to enroll in the CFA Program.
Pass the Level I exam
Offered in June or December
Pass the Level II exam
Offered only in June
Pass the Level III exam
Offered only in June
Have four years of professional work experience in the investment decision-making process
This work experience can be accrued before, during, or after participation in the CFA Program.
Join CFA Institute as a regular member
Candidates must become members in order to obtain their charter.
Who is it for?
Portfolio and wealth managers, investment and research analysts, professionals involved in the investment decision-making process, and finance students who want to work in the investment management profession
How long does it take?
A minimum of three years to complete three exams (Levels I, II, and III), assuming four-year work experience requirement is already met
You must have one of the following:
A bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree (or be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree program)
Four years of professional work experience
A combination of professional work experience or teaching experience that totals at least four years
CFA Program Curriculum
10 Topics, One Body of Knowledge
The curriculum is built from the CFA Institute Body of Knowledge, taking you deep into investment management by cutting across these 10 key areas.
Ethical and Professional Standards: Learn about putting investors first in critical and everyday practice.
Quantitative Methods: From time value of money analysis to correlation analysis and regression, learn robust quantitative methods.
Economics: Delve into supply and demand, the monetary system, inflation, effects of government regulation, and much more.
Financial Reporting and Analysis: Learn the details of the financial reporting system (emphasis on international standards, IFRS) and analysis of taxes, debt, global operations, and more.
Corporate Finance: From corporate governance to capital structure decisions, we cover complex issues in corporate finance.
Equity Investments: Study the types of equity securities, equity portfolio measurements, and much more.
Fixed Income: Study fixed income security types, portfolio benchmarks, and other complex topics.
Derivatives: Learn about forward markets, future markets, option markets, and more.
Alternative Investments: Examine real estate, private equity, commodities, and more.
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning: Examine the essentials of managing different types of portfolios successfully.
CFA® Exam Information
The CFA exams (Levels I, II, and III) are offered every June at test centers around the world. The Level I exam is also offered in December. Each exam must be passed sequentially. The exams are offered in English only.
Program and Exam Fees
There is a one-time program enrollment fee when you register for the CFA Level I exam for the first time. The cost of each exam depends on when you register.
Test Center Locations
CFA Program exams are offered in over 170 cities in June and over 70 cities in December, at testing facilities around the world.
When you register, you will select a preferred test center location (usually a city). You can request to change your test center location after you register. CFA Institute assigns a specific test center venue to you considering your indicated preference and seating availability. This assignment is on your admission ticket, which you receive approximately four weeks before the exam.
CFA exam content, learning focus, and question format increase in complexity with each level.
Structure: The Level I exam consists of 240 multiple choice questions, split between two 3-hour sessions. Candidates must attend both sessions.
Morning session (3 hours): 120 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
Afternoon session (3 hours): 120 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
Timing: On average you should allow approximately 90 seconds for each multiple choice question. You may need more or less time, depending on the question and how well you understand the topic.
The Level II exam has a total of 21 item set questions:
Morning session: 10 item set questions
Afternoon session: 11 item set questions
On the Level II exam, you will have a total of 120 items (18 vignettes with 6 items each and 3 vignettes with 4 items each, for a total of 21 vignettes) compared to 240 multiple choice items on the Level I exam.
The Level II exam is worth 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam. The 120 Level II items are equally weighted, 3 points each, with no penalty for incorrect answers.
On the Level II (and III) exams, some topics are covered in the morning session only and other topics are covered in the afternoon session only.
The Level III exam consists of item set and constructed response (essay) and item set questions:
Morning session: Constructed response (essay) questions (usually between 8 and 12 questions, each with several subparts) with a maximum of 180 points. (The point value for each question is provided in the exam book.)
Afternoon session: 11 item set questions (8 vignettes with 6 items each and 3 vignettes with 4 items each, for a total of 11 vignettes)